If Chris Berman still did baseball highlights on ESPN, somehow I think Jake Arrieta would be Jake Walking on Air-ieta. Nickname or no, the Texan was walking on air last night in Los Angeles, following his no-hit effort for the Cubs against the home standing Dodgers in ESPN’s Sunday night game. Until baffling the Dodgers last night, as Houspon pitcher Mike Fiers had done last week, Arrieta may well have been the least known 17-game winner of recent years. He pitched for TCU (Texas Christian University,) and was teammates with St. Louis Cardinals allstar Matt Carpenter. He pitched in Cuba during the World University games in 2006 on a U.S. team that would win the tournament. In 2008, after being drafted by the Orioles, they allowed him to go to China for the Olympics, where the U.S. team took third place, good for a bronze medal. He never distinguished himself with the Orioles, but came into his own once he joined the Cubs.
Arrieta has come close to this no-hit moment before. On June 24, 2013 he set the first 18 Cincinnati Reds down. Billy Hamilton put a stop to that with a double leading off the seventh. Just over a year later, on June 30, 2014 he carried a no-hitter into the 8th only to be thwarted by the Red Sox’ Stephen Drew. Last night he closed the deal. All the offense he needed, and all he got, was a two-run home run in the first by Chris Bryant.
Arrieta authored the 14th no-hitter by the Cubs, going back to 1880 when Larry Corcoran twirled the first of 3 hie would pitch. Ken Holtzman has two no-hit games under his belt. Six Cubs no-hitters were tossed before 1915, 8 since 1954. Don Cardwell threw one in 1960-in his first game as a Cub following a trade. In one of two Holtzman no-hitters he did not strike out a man. Carlos Zambrano was the last Cub to do the deed, in 2008. His was perhaps under the most unusual conditions. He was facing the Houston Astros after Houston had faced the wrath of Hurricane Ike. The game had to be m oved to Milwaukee. No other no-hitter was thrown in a city where neither team was the home team.
On the other side of the coin, the Dodgers may well be the only team to finish first in their division and be no-hit twice in the same season. With no budget and no staff, I was unable to find another first-place team to hold that dubious distinction.
A Pioneer and a Gentleman turns 80
Frank Robinson turns 80 today. In Cincinnati and Baltimore,among fans of a certain nothing more needs to be said. The people who follow twitter, facebook and the police blotter have never seen his name. The name Frank Robinson and the word “Scandal,” should never appear in the same sentence, as they do with so many of today’s athletes. He played the game the right way, in a day when players were working men, not multi-millionaires with agents and entourages. While a memeber of the Reds he might be seen driving an economy car of the period to Xavier University with a load of books as he tried for a college education. As a high school player he teamed with future Reds’ teammate Vada Pinson, and Curt Flood whose mutiny against a 1970 trade made it possible for players to become the entitled men they are now.
It’s easy enough to say what Frank Robinson could do to a pitcher. Jim Bouton, famous for the book “Ball Four,” was asked how he pitched to Robinson. His answer–“Reluctantly.” He had company. Robinson launched 586 home runs between 1956 and 1976, an era when most ball parks were substantially larger than they are today. No other man can claim an MVP Award from both leagues-won in 1961 with the Reds and 1966 with the Orioles. He won the tripple crown in 1966 to go with his MVP award. Not bad for a man who had been traded before the season, and called “Not a young 30,) by his former boss, Reds owner Bill DeWitt. A final note about 1966-Robinson became the only man to launch one over the hedges and totally out of Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. It never happened from then until the stadium closed after the 1991 season. In 12 seasons Robinson was considered an Allstar, and in fact played 14 AllStar games in those 12 seasons. Between 1959 and 1962 there were two All-Star games played each year. His play earned Robinson a spot in Cooperstown in 1982.
Robinson became the first black manager in baseball. He had let it be known when he was with the Angels that he would like to be their manager. His reward-a one-way plane ticket to Cleveland. The Indians named him manager in 1975, granting him his pioneering wish. He also became the first p black manager in the National League when he took the reins of the Giants in 1984. He got the chance to pilot his old team, the Orioles between 1988 and 1991. After more than a decade in the major league office, Robinson took his final managing job with Montreal, the team which is now the Washington Nationals. His managing career ended following the 2006 season. Bronze statues of him may be seen outside of both Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, and Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Happy Birthday, Frank Robinson-a credit to his race–the_ HUMAN_ race.